Zero Boys - Hollywood (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Zero Boys

Hollywood (2014)


More than 30 years after their humble beginnings in Indianapolis, Zero Boys are on quite a roll. In May, they released their first full length in 20 years, the very well received Monkey. Six months later comes Hollywood and this EP has a cool backstory. All of these songs were written by original guitarist Terry "Hollywood" Howe, who died of an overdose in 2001. This serves as a tribute to Howe, while also giving fans five songs that were never properly recorded.

Zero Boys are best known for their 1981 LP Vicious Circle. It is widely acknowledged as a classic of American hardcore, although it is not nearly as well known as many of its east or west coast counterparts. That album's sound is best defined as 90 second blasts of frenzied, Ramones' style punk played at an even more frantic pace. Most of the band's other releases, Hollywood included, are much closer to straight up rock and roll. Think the New York Dolls, or even the Rolling Stones. This little record has what can only be described as swagger.

Opening track "B.I.T.C.H.I.N.", is a classic song about girl trouble. Its chorus defies you to try to keep up and sing along. "Garbage Patrol" has a huge 80's style metal riff and the lyric "Save my soul/From the garbage patrol". "It's a Long Way Home" and "Queen of Siam" are solid songs with attitude to spare. "Rock and Roll Will Take its Toll" is a fitting closing track for Hollywood. It features bluesy, blistering guitar leads that would make Angus Young proud. You can't help but wonder if Howe had any idea how prophetic his words would be. Like any good EP, these fifteen minutes go by way too fast. It definitely leaves you wanting more.

It's nice to see a classic Midwestern punk band getting a second (or fifth) wind. Geographic isolation hurt Zero Boys in the 80's, but technology has helped to level the playing field. It's also nice to hear a long running band put out strong new material. Hollywood is both a look back at a fallen friend, and a relevant sounding record. Too many of the legacy punk bands are living off of the 15 or 20 song they wrote when they were teenagers. Zero Boys deserve respect for what they've done in the past, but also for being viable now.